To Gethsemane

Yeshua said of the ruler of this world: “he has nothing on Me.” This is variously translated: “he has no claim on Me”; “He has nothing in common with Me”; “there is nothing in Me that belongs to him”; and “he has no power over Me.” Whenever we sin we put ourselves in the place of having something in common with Satan, it gives him a claim on us and power over us for our sin provides something in us that belongs to the evil one. Yeshua lived totally free from any claim of Satan, and He died to give us that same freedom.

Despite His innocence and sinlessness Yeshua would benumbered with the transgressors” just as Isaiah had prophesied, for all of God’s word is fulfilled.

God had supplied all their needs when Yeshua sent them out on mission trips without money belt, bag or sandals but this was no mission trip, this was the garden of Gethsemane (derived from the Aramaic ܓܕܣܡܢ (Gaḏ-Šmānê), meaning “oil press“) they were going to, the place of trial and testing, the place where their weaknesses, faithlessness and failures would be exposed. Here they could take everything they relied on for worldly success and find it inadequate. There could be no reminiscing “if only we had this or that we would not have abandoned or denied Him“, they had all they could take, and it made no difference. Their scattering was not for lack of money or sword, but lack of strengthening of heart. Yet even this was as the prophets had long ago foretold, even this was part of God’s plan of salvation. He works all things for good.

Even so, having carefully arranged for this last supper to be in a place not previously known to the twelve so Judas could not inform the authorities where this would be, now Yeshua returned to known patterns and places (as was His custom) – the time had come for what He had declared over the Passover Seder to be fulfilled.

Peter wasn’t the only one who would fail this night – all were going to stumble and fall away, not one of the twelve would be left standing with Yeshua in His hour of greatest need. As Zechariah had prophesied about 500 years before, when the shepherd was struck all His sheep would scatter. Yet, knowing this, Yeshua had still called them friends and shared with them all that the Father had given Him.

Just four days before, Yeshua had entered Jerusalem through the Eastern Gate (in Hebrew, Sha’ar Harahamim, the “Gate of Mercy”) on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9) and been acknowledged as Messiah. Now He left Jerusalem through the Eastern Gate and, by the light of the full moon, trekked down the steep slope of the Kidron valley (John 18:1), across the bridge, then onwards towards an enclosed garden, or olive orchard (κῆπος), at the foot of the Mount of Olives. The word “Gethsemane” means literally “the place of the olive-press,” whither the olives which abounded on the slopes of the mountain were brought, in order that the oil contained in them might be pressed out.  This night Yeshua would be similarly pressed.

To this familiar spot, with its many happy associations from much time spent there together, Yeshua led His talmidim, after such rich teaching along the way. They may have simply expected to pass the night there, as many Passover visitors were accustomed to camp in the open air since the city was overflowing with pilgrims for the festival. This was no happy occasion, the weight of it pressed heavily on Yeshua as the full horrors of the cup He was to drink assaulted Him: “My soul is deeply grieved, even to the point of death”.

In keeping with the practice which He had recommended, Yeshua usually went aside by Himself to pray; but this time He felt the need of having friends nearby – friends on whose sympathy He could rely. As He had done on a number of occasions before, Yeshua took Peter, James and John with Him to witness this pivotal moment. This time it was not His power and glory they were going to behold close at hand, as when He raised the daughter of Jairus from the dead or was transfigured on the mountain; but they were to witness His human weakness and deep humiliation. So great was His torment that He sweat drops of blood, which would likely have left His face red and swollen, the disfigurement had begun even before man laid a hand on Him.

Only Luke, a physician by profession, and whose writings manifest an intimate acquaintance with the technical language of the Greek medical schools of Asia Minor, provides us with this detail of Yeshua’s suffering. Luke referred to Yeshua’s sweat (idros) – a much used term in Greek medical language – as consisting of great drops of blood (thromboi haimatos), a medical condition alluded to by both Aristotle and Theophrastus. The Greek term thromboi (from which we get ‘thrombosis’) refers to clots of blood.  In modern medical terms this rare condition is called hematidrosis and has been found to be caused by severe mental distress rupturing the tiny capillaries in the sweat glands, thus mixing blood with perspiration.  While the extent of blood loss generally is minimal, hematidrosis also results in the skin becoming extremely tender and fragile, which would have made Christ’s pending physical insults even more painful. Even before Yeshua endured the torture of the cross, He suffered far beyond what most of us will ever suffer. His penetrating awareness of the heinous nature of sin, its destructive and deadly effects, the sorrow and heartache that it inflicts, and the extreme measure necessary to deal with it, make the passion of Messiah beyond our comprehension.

This cup, in which so many bitter ingredients besides death were mingled, such as treachery, betrayal, desertion, mocking, rejection, false accusation, injustice, torture, the horror of all our sin being laid upon Him even as He suffered being forsaken – the inconceivable separation of God from God. Prayer was His refuge, as it must be ours. The soul that can cry, ‘Abba, Father!’ does not walk in unbroken night.  Whatever the weight laid on Yeshua by His bearing of the sins of the world, it did not take from Him the consciousness of sonship. But, on the other hand, that consciousness did not take from Him the dark awareness that the world’s sin lay upon Him.  Yeshua recoiled at the horror of what He was to undergo, yet He chose the Father’s will none-the-less.

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In the comments section below share your thoughts on what you have read and answer some of the following questions…

* Jesus knows all the ways in which we will fall and fail – from His response to knowing how the disciples would fail Him how do you think He reacts to our failures?
* Luke 22:31-32 states: “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat. But I have prayed earnestly for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, once you have returned, strengthen your brothers.” Why do you think that God would concede to Satan’s demand? How do you think Peter’s denial of Christ was related to his ability to later strengthen his brothers?
* Jesus prayed in John 17 firstly that the disciples would be one as He and the Father are one, and then that we would be one as He and the Father are one – what evidence is there that God has answered those prayers?
* In obeying the Father’s will Jesus suffered terribly – what is our response when obeying God involves suffering?
* Describe a time in your life when prayer has been your only refuge, there was none you could rely upon except God.